Old friends met up at the Raygar Stadium for a friendly that was not quite as amiable as it should have been, following a mass brawl on the half hour mark that saw both sides reduced to ten men.
Matlock had just gone two goals up when Micky Harcourt reacted angrily to a ball he deemed was deliberately booted at him by kicking the “guilty” opponent.
Then tempers erupted as players from both sides pushed, shoved and threw punches with former Gladiator Danny Davidson grabbing Lewis McMahon by the throat.
When calm was eventually restored referee Nick Hopton sent off both Harcourt and Davidson with several others being fortunate not to be joining them.
The fracas was unexpected as Matlock went to a Sports side managed by former Gladiators favourites Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins and started with Davidson and Wirksworth based Gary Webster, before bringing on Nathan Benger for the second half.
Matlock boss Mark Atkins had a large squad at his disposal as Harcourt and Adam Yates were recalled after being on holiday, trialist Russell Peel, who impressed at Clipstone had another run out at left back while the other noteable inclusion was Anthony Griffiths-Junior partnering McMahon in attack.
On a ground which Matlock had lost on their only two previous visits, the visitors began brightly, a good chance going begging in the opening minute as McMahon stumbled as he tried to convert Lavelle White’s low cross from the left. This was quickly followed by Jordan Snodin fiercely blasting James Ashmore’s cross over the bar.
But McMahon netted on 7 minutes when following a surging break from Griffiths-Junior, he was allowed far much time and space to squeeze in a gentle shot.
Ashmore miskicked badly after Snodin found him well placed before Sports found their feet and as Town conceded a number of free kicks in dangerous places, Richie-Smith struck the outside of Jon Kennedy’s right hand post.
Home custodian Chris Martin superbly tipped McMahon’s 20th minute flick over the bar after Griffiths-Junior had again used his strength and pace to good effect but Martin was beaten again when Griffiths-Junior appeared to get the vital touch after home defender Grocutt had crazily chested a corner into his path.
After fans had been treated to a boxing and wrestling interlude, the match was a non event up to the interval when a host of personnel changes were made.
Mickleover threatened when a Liam Walshe free kick flashed across their penalty box and Benger halved the deficit on 50 minutes, shrugging off Yates to lob neatly over the advancing Kennedy, although it looked from afar as if captain Yates had been fouled.
Grocutt’s second blunder of the evening when he deflected a Joe Leesley cross on to his own crossbar nearly gifted Matlock a third goal before a pattern emerged of Mickleover pressing forward for most of the remainder of the contest, but Martin being the busier of the two goalkeepers.
The nearest Mickleover came to equalising was when Kennedy stretched to reach a corner and the ball was knocked off the line.
At the other end Martin excelled to leap through the air to push away a Corey Gregory header and Danny Holland’s snap shot but generally in the second half Matlock’s final pass was disappointing to hand possession back to the First Division South outfit far too easily.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Micky Harcourt 3 Russell Peel (Joe Leesley 46), 4 Liam Needham (Gareth Davies 66) 5 Adam Yates 6 Oscar Radford 7 Anthony Griffiths-Junior (Darryl Thomas 46) 8 James Ashmore (Liam Gaughan 82) 9 Jordan Snodin (Danny Holland 46) 10 Lewis McMahon (Corey Gregory 46) 11 Lavelle White (Anton Foster 46)
REFEREE: Nick Hopton (Derby).
ATTENDANCE: 100 est.